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Review of INSIDE MOVES by Walter Danley

See full issue for 2017 10-09
by Jennifer Ellis

The Rundown

Inside Moves: A Wainwright Mystery by Walter Danley is a twisty tale of deception and greed. Garth Wainwright wakes up in the UCLA Medical Centre with no memory of how he got there. Add in a house he doesn’t recognize, a possibly missing wife and a crime cartel and you have a roaring adventure.

Inside Moves contains many elements of a great crime novel. There are assassins, criminals, FBI agents and investigators. The setting is global and the plot is complex. There is great attention to detail in the places and actions of the characters. There are some very funny moments, mostly because some of the characters, particularly the bad guys, are extremely unintelligent. Danley puts a nice sarcastic spin on observing some of their behavior. Inside Moves has a nice timeless feel to it and hearkens back to some of the great hardboiled and noir crime novels and movies of the early twentieth century in tone, although Wainwright is not at all cynical.

The head-hopping omniscient narration, however, is challenging. While for the most part it is in third person limited, but with a large number of point of view characters, there are times when it was unclear whose point of view the story was being told from. The dialogue was also stilted in places—sometimes too earnest and proper with excessive exposition via dialogue, and other times too informal in an attempt to imitate the diction of criminals but instead seeming almost affected.

Perhaps it is a stylistic choice reflective of the type of novel, but sometimes the characters behave in odd ways and make strange assumptions. When Garth and Lacey are basically forced off a cliff in their vehicle by a vehicle behind them that is ramming them, they don’t seem to become very alarmed, nor do they seem to draw the obvious conclusion that someone is trying to kill them. When Lacey is escaping from an extremely dangerous situation where a lot of men have guns, she smiles and contemplates beaning a bad boy on the head with a frying pan, her only weapon. Wainwright likewise under-reacts when he sees one of his friends killed. Because of this, some of the characters seemed almost like caricatures. These choices could however be related to the genre and tone of the novel which seems almost tongue in cheek at times, and might work fine for some readers.

At the beginning, the timeline of the story is a bit unclear. There is a lot of jumping around to provide back story. As a result, there is a bit too much telling rather than showing. Once the main narrative takes off about a third of the way through, this is much improved.


The Recommendation

Inside Moves: A Wainwright Mystery was a gripping and poignant read with bad guys, good guys and take-charge women for readers seeking a crime novel with an Ocean’s Eleven sort of feel.


The Rating Reviewer Rating: 3.5 Stars

3.5 Stars (out of 5): Pretty good. For the right audience, this could be great. Sure, there were some issues, but it was still worth the read.

The Pros & Cons

Pros: Plot, Unique Style
Cons: Character Developement, Dialogue, Suspension of Disbelief

The Links

More about Inside Moves on UBR

The Reviewer

Jennifer Ellis

Jennifer is an environmental researcher by day, writer by night, and skier whenever she has a spare moment. She’s written two novels, A Pair of Docks (2013), and In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation (May 2014) with more on the way.

Visit Jennifer Ellis‘s website.

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